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Issue #2001 - 03 (Jan. 2001)

(Updated on Jan. 17, 2001)


McDonalds’s Goes Wireless?

McDonald’s is looking at wireless technology to make fast-food live up to its name -- no need to wait in long line-ups for your BigMac and fries just the swipe of wand and payment is made.

For three months, the hamburger chain has been testing a new wireless payment technology in nine restaurants in Chicago and four in California. Working with Exxon Mobil, McDonald’s is enabling its customers to use their Mobil Speedpass transponders to swipe pass special cash registers to pay for their meals.

"We want a full six months’ worth of data, and then we’ll analyze the numbers and the feedback from customers before making a decision, a spokesperson for McDonald’s told Information Week. "But we think allowing customers to pay with a quick wave of the wand is a great way to cut service time and create convenience for them."

The Speedpass system is similar to the technology used my many toll ways. It uses an electronic system located in a register or gas pump to talk with a miniature radio-like device (a transponder). With the swipe of the transponder, payment is made instantly to the customer’s registered credit card or check-card.

According to Exxon, the Speedpass system operates on a dedicated transponder identification code. The credit card or check card code remains outside the Speedpass signal system which protects the account from unauthorized use.

If the all innovative wireless payment schemes being currently tested are deployed, the mobile savvy consumer may find themselves with a bag full of devices, from a smartphone to a handheld to a transponder, instead of a wallet full of credit cards. Perhaps retailers should look at the big picture before investing in a wireless payment solution by asking themselves: Will the solution offer our customers ‘true convenience’?

For more information: www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20010108S0004

Mobileinfo Comments and Advisory: Macdonald is known for speedy service for meals to go while on the road. Therefore, it is fitting for them to try wireless technology out. While we find this pilot of interest for exploring new transponder technology, we make two observations - one payment portion of the entire buying process is relatively small. What we would like to see is that a traveler can transmit his/her meal order with payment information from a distance while approaching the restaurant and then he/she picks up the meal from a special window. That will be a quantum improvement in service. Secondly Exxon Speedpass is a proprietary technology. We need standards in this area.

Note: This news release may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing these products, services and technology architectures.

All trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective owners.

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